Jun 5, 2017

When hero girls are in stories

My family
My family

When hero girls are in stories (because there are not so many hero women at home)


Preeti with her cycle repair shop, Bijali and her carnival, Farah who is determined to learn how to drive, Seema who knows she can build her own swing, Aarti knows that girls can do everything, she’s read about these girls in stories she’s given, and is allowed to keep, at school.

She also knows and smiles as she shares her secret, that boys can do what girls are supposed to do. They’re very good at cleaning. You just need to find a way to inspire them to share the work at home. And unfortunately, it’s not often that your Mum or Aunts will insist boys help too.


Under the light of faintly shining stars, Aarti wakes up at 4am every morning, collects her books and walks to her coaching class. In an ideal world, her school would have enough teachers to teach all subjects and you would not need to go to coaching before school. Music plays on a loud speaker. Just any other day, Aarti cleaned up her room, made her bed, made tea and had a cracker for breakfast. She keeps track of each second on the clock. She has a lot to finish before she can actually go to school, and she does not want to be late. 

About the cleaning and washing and housekeeping, Aarti’s mother has left it to her, she’s too old she explains to us now, too old. 

Aarti has a brother but her mother does not think that he needs to share the work.

No one asked Aarti, if they did, she’d tell them what she thinks.

The songs in the background are the songs of a wedding day. Lyrics about when a girl leaves her parents’ house and takes on the role of a wife, daughter-in-law, mother. The role of washing and cleaning everything, the floor, clothes, babies, food, plates. 

‘Cleaning’ Aarti notes.

It’s the time of a year when lots of people get married in Bihar. Leftover decorations in Aarti’s house signal her cousin’s wedding a week ago. For Aarti, who goes to school every day, and dreams of finishing Grade 12, marriage is not something people are talking about yet, though they may, soon. 

Aarti’s dreams are not really in line with what her mother has planned, or rather what her mother refuses to plan. 

“What is the idea of doing anything for a girl’s future, sure she should finish school, she should not get married before she’s 18 because that’s what I’m supposed to say, but then girls must learn to take care of the house.Women do not work outside of their house, once married, who are we to interfere in her new life.”

‘Cleaning’ and it’s this time that we make notes.

“If I get my way, I will never marry. There are many newly married people in my family, and I know the truth, that is, marriage stops you from being young. It cuts short your dreams. Young women, we lose our voices. We have to do what we should not be doing.”

Her mother explains: “If Aarti finishes school, that would be the highest level of education she can get. And whether she works after that or not, will be her in-laws’ decision. When my son marries I want a good daughter-in-law to look after the house. Sure if she wants to work I’ll let her, but then my dream of help with the house will be lost.”

A lull between the storm, quiet, unshaken, unafraid, Aarti encourages herself, she does not depend on anyone else, she does everything she must do to get to what she wants. She tells us that heroes are in stories. Role models don’t need to be in your family. In real life. They can be other places. Like stories. TV. Cycling by.

What she thought was written in stone before: young men = no cleaning, fathers = no childcare, she’s now realized is not so permanent. In the stories she’s been reading she’s seen young men share the household work (and clean!) and fathers look after children. 

“Is my brother who is moving to the hostel this year, not going to cook and clean his room when he’ll be on his own? Yes he will. And he can clean some more once he is married.”

“Most of the stories are about girls. And that’s good. Because boys have always gotten most of the attention before. I’m glad the stories are about girls. That’s what’s new about them. And they are about girls who have dreams other than getting married, they think out of the box, get wild yet stay focused, other girls are too distracted right now - about marriage.”

Aarti says with confidence. “I thought if I speak my mind, my parents will think I am the worst daughter ever, now I know they will not. If I manage to succeed in work, to make it, then they’ll have to be happy with me as an imperfect not-to-be-yet bride.”

That’s a good title for a girl hero story Aarti. 

My friends
My friends
May 22, 2017

Pitch it. The Red Carpet Grande Finale: Bihar

walking the red carpet
walking the red carpet

The Kids Sustainable School Challenge

The Kids Sustainable School Challenge is the first government-school kids’ sustainable enterprise challenge. This was exclusively designed to give kids in Grade 9 Government Schools in Bihar a chance to research, write, think-through, design and finally action sustainable-enterprises ideas in their schools. 

This Kids Sustainable School Challenge began in 2016, powered by a kids’ radio show that got the word out, introduced in our teacher training, with flyers in newspapers - it was open to all. We directly ran the challenge through the 1,500 Government Secondary Schools that Going to School works in. Every kid that wanted to be a part of it received an eight step Kids B plan notebook to complete. The notebook takes kids through the steps of building a business plan and a prototype, to testing and finally going to market. When kids were finished with their plans they sent them in the business reply envelope to our P.O.Box in New Delhi.


What happened next?


- 10,000 kids across Government Secondary Schools in Bihar, responded, sending us their completed School-Enterprise-Plan Notebooks by post to our P.O.Box. in New Delhi. 

- 25 people at Going to School read every kid’s plan. 

- 101 kids’ plans were selected according to whether the kids’ ideas were well-researched, sustainable, green, inclusive, used clean energy & solved a big problem that would change their school for everyone. 

- 101 kids practiced to pitch their business idea at the Pitch It event held on 23rd April, 2017 in Nalanda, Bihar.


Some brilliant pitches by the star kids were as follows:

‘I’ll make a safe playground for girls, we’ll begin with an egg and spoon race’

 ‘We need to recycle all of our trash’

 ‘My plan is to use solar light to light everything’

 ‘We’ve got to make the way to school safe for girls’

 ‘We’ve got to make the way to school safe for girls’ 

‘I’ve designed an entire drainage system to make sure we have clean water at school’



PITCH IT. 23rd April, 2017. Nalanda, Bihar

For the first time in rural India, kids presented their ideas for how they’ll change their schools [Think mini-TEDx]

The pitches were judged by a jury of kids who travelled all the way from Mumbai

50 schools won grants to action kids plans. 

40 star teachers were celebrated from across Bihar who through the past year taught kids in Grade 9, 21st Century Skills through stories, games and skills projects.

The RICC Auditorium accommodated around 1,300 people on the day of the event.

Total 11 buses traveled from eight districts in Bihar a day before with 103 kids, 102 Parents and 100 teachers to Nalanda.

On the eve of the event the Moonlight market was organized in the premises of RICC hall where kids showcased their beautiful, sustainable projects that they had created at school. 


•We live-streamed the entire event on Facebook. 

•Over 700,000 viewers watched the event unfolding live from 10am to 6pm on Facebook.

•Other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram were also used to give timely updates.

•It was an all-day, red-carpet event. Nine cameras. Spotlights in the Sky. 

•Children’s Scrappy News Teams of Kid Reporters covered the event, interviewed kids before they went on stage. The Children’s Scrappy Newsroom was also built out front in the parking lot [like India’s Got Talent]. 

•Apart from social media impressions, many local and national newspapers covered the event. 

51 finalists who won
51 finalists who won
the audience
the audience
the sign
the sign
welcoming our guests
welcoming our guests


Mar 30, 2017

Kids' Sustainable School Challenge-Race to Nalanda

Your Invitation to Nalanda
Your Invitation to Nalanda

Where this all began

We’ve been working in thousands of government schools in Bihar since 2012, teaching kids skills at school through stories, games and action-projects. Can you make something out of nothing to solve a problem? Can you re-design your bicycle to be all it can be? 

Then, we had a friend visit our schools program and he asked us a very good question. 

“You are teaching kids to become entrepreneurs once they finish school. Is there any way you could design entrepreneurial challenges for them now, that would give them a chance to become entrepreneurs at school?”

Good question. 

To answer this, we designed a challenge for every school. The Kids' Sustainable School Challenge. 

We asked kids one very important question.

“If you could change your school in any way, from the building to make it green, to what you’d like to learn, to solving a problem for everyone in school, what would you do?”

We asked this question through 300 super-duper Going to School team members visiting schools. We asked this question through a kid-powered radio show. We put flyers in newspapers, and posters on school walls.

If you called us last year and said you wanted to be a part of it, we sent you in return a School-Enterprise-Businessplan-Notebook, with a pre-paid business reply envelope.

Kids were asked to complete eight steps that followed design-thinking principles. Find the problem you want to solve. Ask people if they think it’s a problem too. Use your research to design a solution. Make a prototype. Test it with everyone. Refine it. Determine your marketing strategy. Get the word out. Complete your plan and post it to us in New Delhi, India.

We thought hey, we’ll receive a few hundred plans.

We received 10,000 completed school-enterprise plans from kids.

We had to ask volunteers to help us grade, log and assess kids plans (there were so many).

Kids’ school-change plans tell us kids want more space, clean water, teachers who are present every day, birds nests, tress, fresh air, places to play, girls to study, girls to play, sports pitches, stuff to play sports with, safe rides to school, innovative bicycles, lots of recycling, no trash.

101 kids and their plans have been shortlisted.

They have all been invited to a mega red carpet event. They are coming to Nalanda, Bihar with their parents and teachers, it promises to be an exciting day.

All day, 101 kids will present their ideas. They get 1 minute. And the judges are kids who have come from Mumbai, India. Kids get a chance to win mini-grants to action their school-change projects in their schools. The grants will go the schools to action kids plans. 

To raise money for the kids' school-change plans, we asked you (and all our friends on GlobalGiving) to choose a plan and invest, we were thrilled to see the power of collective action.

The race to Nalanda continues. It’s all happening on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 and you are invited. If you can’t make it in person, do follow our Livestream on Facebook. 

Sweety wants to spread awareness about cleanliness
Sweety wants to spread awareness about cleanliness
Place to play
Place to play
Fresh Air
Fresh Air
Anushka wants people to stop falling sick
Anushka wants people to stop falling sick
Sadhna wants clean drinking water for everyone
Sadhna wants clean drinking water for everyone
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